Monday, June 3, 2013

What's stopping you?

One question all Protestants need to ask themselves is what is stopping them or any other Protestant they know from going off and independently starting their own denomination. Most Protestants simply don't think about it, but every Protestant who has gone off and started his own church obviously has pondered this question and recognized their 'right' to do this. Ultimately, it reveals a fatal flaw in their system, and that flaw is that ultimately nobody is subject to anyone else. In fact, a well-informed Calvinist I spoke to recently came right out and said he doesn't submit to anyone but Scripture. But how is another Protestant going to stop him from believing this? I don't see a principled way out of this dilemma. And how can a Protestant truly accept texts like Acts 16:4 and Hebrews 13:17, along with the Pastoral Epistles, I truly don't know. I don't think they can. (So much for Protestantism being Biblical.)

This is one of those issues that the more informed Protestants like to keep hushed because it would completely expose the absurdity of their system. A lot of them know that they cannot challenge the 'pastorship' of even their most bitter enemies, because they know what would happen to their own claims to authority. And so they parade around as if their most bitter enemy with even less 'credentials' than themself is still entitled to be regarded as a pastor. When I've confronted Protestants on this issue, they'll often try to get around it by claiming their pastor was ordained by some board of elders or at a Protestant seminary, as if this sufficiently answered the question. But all they're doing is taking the question one step back to who authorized the board of elders or who authorized the seminary. Ultimately, it will always come down to a group of self-appointed pastors who made themselves into a board of elders or who founded the seminary, and acted as if their self-appointed authority was true authority. It's no different than a random dude starting his own mega church. It happens all the time. But the Catholic sees right through all this. The Catholic sees that this is one of the biggest hoaxes foisted upon the world.

In the end, this Protestant mindset ultimately says the visible Church isn't held together by anything concrete, since a person can break off into schism or heresy and be just as much part of the visible Church as anyone else. With this moral, doctrinal, and ecclesial relativism in full swing, the "visible Church" thus goes from something concrete to something abstract, and thus a self-refuting concept (since an abstract thing cannot be visible). And by this point you can realize that just thinking about such a world-wide hoax like this is exhausting. No wonder our society is so much in shambles when this kind of "logic" is running rampant.


Steve Martin said...

In our church, the gospel is preached in it's purity (Christ's work on the cross for sinners - no add-on's)...and the sacraments are administered in accordance with that pure gospel.

We know that Christ is at work there...creating and sustaining faith.

Why mess with that?

If Rome would offer that to us, we would come back in a heartbeat.

Steve Dalton said...

Steve, who defines what the "pure gospel" is in the Lutheran Church? The last time I looked it was Luther&Co. Where did their authority come from to define that "pure gospel" and the sacraments? It came from their own, man-made authority, not from the apostolic traditions recorded in the Holy Scriptures and oral traditions of the Church.

"Why mess with that?" We didn't "mess with that". Luther, and all the other Protestant leaders did.

"Back in a heartbeat." Yep, on your terms! Sorry, it's seven sacrament and the real, pure gospel or nothing, Steve.

Steve Martin said...

Scripture and plain reason.

No works needed, as in the Catholic Church. No Popes needed. No decisions for Christ as in the Baptist Church. No special touching by certain fingertips to make the Lord's Supper effective as in so many churches. You don't have to purchase indulgences as they had to in the Roman Church of Luther's day.

Just Christ and His forgiveness of sins for the sinner. That's it. That's the pure gospel.

It's awesome. No ladders to climb. Freedom in Christ...alone.

Once you taste that sort of'll never go back under the yoke of slavery, which is the religious ladder-climbing/spirituality project that so many Christians are engaged in. (unless you happen to enjoy all that stuff)

Steve Martin said...

This explains it better than I just did:

Whether or not you agree with everything in it, it will give you a better understanding of why Luther said and did what he did. And why he was kicked out of the Roman Church.

Anil Wang said...

The "Why not start your own church?" question might be more jarring half a century ago when closed communions were the norm, but these days Protestants tend to believe that as long as you believe "the essentials" (as defined by my understanding of the Bible), you're Christian and it's okay to disagree on the "nonessentials" (as defined by my understanding of the Bible). As such, starting your own Church or even switching denominations dozens of times in your life really is no big deal.

On the plus side, it makes Catholic apologetics easy. Whenever a Protestant of any denomination says, "Catholics are not Christians because they believe .....", it's often easy to point to one or all of Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Welsey, Cramner, or other well respected Protestant such as C. S. Lewis and show they believed the same thing. Because modern Protestants refuse to say that any of these respected Protestant are not Christian, they have to concede that Catholics are Christian. I'm surprised that so few Catholic apologists use this tactic in debates since these respected Protestants do a fanastic job in defending the Catholic position on masturbation, contraception, closed communion, etc.

So the key question isn't "Why not start your own church?". The key question is, "What are the essentials of the faith that *all* people you call Christian must hold?", and "By what authority do you prepare this list?". I've yet to see a single list that is agreed by all denominations that recognize each other as Christian. Those lists *must* be the same since we're dealing with essentials. If one denomination says "The Nicene Trinity is an essential" while another says omits this item because "Only those things explicitly stated in the Bible are essential....the Trinity is only a derived fact" and another says "The Bible clearly states that God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the same person, so the Trinity is a heresy created by pagan polytheists under Constantine", Protestants have a disagreement on the essentials. And if there is a disagreement, no individual Protestant can know if he isn't omitting an essential and is bound for hell.

The Catholic answer to "Why not start your own church?" and "What are the essentials?" is the same. We must believe all that the Church states is part of the Deposit of Faith, and part of that Deposit of Faith is that we cannot leave the Church.

cwdlaw223 said...

Steve -

Reason is work/effort! Be careful.

Please explain to us what you believe Rome taught regarding indulgences. Why they were used and for what purpose.

Anonymous said...

Anil Wang,
Why are you in a church that does not teach apostolic doctrines?

Anil Wang said...

Anonymous said..."Why are you in a church that does not teach apostolic doctrines? "

I am in such a Church, the Catholic Church;-)

The bulk of what Catholics believe is found in the Bible, but there's ample historical evidence that Catholic belief are apostolic beliefs from the early Church (from people who learned from the apostles and their immediate successors) and from the early Church up to St. Augustine (when the Bible which was entrusted to that Church finally started declaring which books of the Bible were authentic and which were not).

But these days, you can even go to the respected Protestants before the 1930's to find proof that Catholic doctrines are apostolic doctrines. I mention the 1930's because nearly all Protestant denominations have had dramatic changes their doctrines since then, particularly since the 1960's. Many commonly held Protestant doctrines today would be seen as Hell-worthy heresies before the 1930's. If you're Protestant, do a bit of research on the early doctrines of your denomination. They may shock you.

Anonymous said...

Anil Wang,
What about those doctrines and practices your church believes that are not apostolic? Doctrines such as the Marian dogmas, papal infallibility, indulgences to name a few non-apostolic doctrines. Then there is a celibate leadership and praying to the dead.

cwdlaw223 said...

Anonymous -

Please explain to us how the Jewish practice of praying to the dead was extinguished by Christ. That's a new one. Of course, you can always remove OT books to try to change history.

Please explain to us your understanding of an indulgence. I'm sure it has nothing to do with what Rome officially taught or believed.

Anonymous said...

Show me one verse in the NT of someone praying to Stephen or James. Show me an exhortation from Paul and Peter to pray to them after they die then you will have apostolic grounds for praying to the dead.

Steve Martin said...

During Luther's time, indulgences were sold so that the buyer would receive time out of Purgatory, or they would get time off (Purgatory) for their relatives.

Luther said that "if the Pope really has the power to lessen a person's time in Purgatory, then he should let everyone out of there, out of pure Christian charity."

cwdlaw223 said...

Show me an original book of scripture.

Show me the words "sola scriptura", "justification by faith alone" or "Trinity" in scripture.

Show me where scripture claims every Christian practice must and has to be in scripture! Scripture actually implies the opposite.

You've just removed the OT with your requirement that you only follow what the Apostles said in the NT. You must have forgotten that Christ was the Messiah prophesized in the OT.

You also must reject any concept of the perseverance of the Saints.

There is so much wrong with your historical understanding of Judiasm and early Christianity.

cwdlaw223 said...

Steve -

Please read the following and then tell me if you still believe what you posted above:

Steve Martin said...


Who are you talking to?

The Bible was put together by well learned men in the Church. They did a pretty good job of it.

They were re-calibrating that preached Word...which was starting to go off the rails. We don't view it as inerrant...but it is the infallible Word of God, despite any problems that the historical process brought about.

When people read, or hear the gospel ("faith comes by hearing") they come to faith. Baptism and Holy Communion are also Word of God.

Christ's work on the cross is enough for sinners. That is enough for sinners who tyrust in His promises.


cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

I take your question one step further. If Christ failed with the physical Church he created on this earth to be with us and guide us in teaching and faith and morals then he isn't the Messiah and Christianity is a sick joke and waste of time (along with all other religions).

Most people want to be spiritual on their own terms. Protestantism gives them that because there is no authority for a Protestant to submit to on this earth but his own interpretation. The concept of a one, holy, apostolic and universal Church is a joke and glossed over to feel good.

Protestantism is fundamentally the same as all the other heresies such as Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses but superficially different. All of them can only exist if Christ failed with his church.

Steve Martin said...

Christ's Church is wherever His gospel is preached and believed. And where the sacraments are administered in accordance with that gospel. That is true for the Catholic Church as well as the Lutheran Church, and any other churches where Christ and His forgiveness of sins for sinners is proclaimed.

Mormons are into making themselves into gods.

Could there be real Christians in the Mormon religion?

Sure! (even there, as unlikely as it seems)

There amy even be some of that "faithful remnant" in our own churches.

Nick said...


That's a good point. For whatever reason, closed communions hung on for quite a while, but suddenly in the last 50 years or so everything came crashing down.

A favorite question that Dave Armstrong likes to utilize is to ask a Protestant to define what makes a person a Christian. But I also strongly agree with you that the whole essential/non-essential distinction is just as devastating. One Catholic pointed out that we can use examples as simple as Jesus' teaching on divorce: would anyone dare suggest that something Jesus taught was "non-essential"?

cwdlaw223 said...

I'm talking directly to you and you obviously don't read the Bible or you would stop with your cliff notes version of Christianity that has no biblical or historical support.

You have to re-define the word church into some intangible realm for your worldview to fit. That's what liberals and progressives do when confronted with truth. They twist it and bend it so their worldview fits.

So who's version of the Gospel is correct? Lutheranism, Catholicism, Pentecostalism and Presbyterianism have mutually exclusive versions of the Gospel.

cwdlaw223 said...

Nick -

I can guarantee you certain Protestants would tell Christ to his face he's wrong in certain areas.

Anil Wang said...

cwdlaw223 said..."I can guarantee you certain Protestants would tell Christ to his face he's wrong in certain areas."

Yes but those are liberal Protestants that doubt the divinity of Jesus and should be given no more credibility for being Protestant than Hans Kuhn's exposition of what Catholic is.

What is more common is for Protestants to think that either St Paul said some things that were culturally conditioned (e.g. 1 Cor 14:34, 1 Tim 2:12, Eph 5:22).

It's even more commonly that if they went back in time and St Paul contradicted their understanding of the Bible, then they would trust their interpretation of the Bible over St Paul and use Gal 1:8-9 as justification along with the statement "St Paul is only infallible when he's writing scripture".

And it's almost universal to believe that successors to the apostles should only be listened to in so far as they conform to ones own understanding of scripture and any variations are due to their misunderstanding of scripture, not ours (e.g. even William Lane Craig who recommends reading the early Church Fathers holds this view).

Steve Martin said...

Here's some good stuff from some Church Fathers:

Chrysostom (349–407): But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only.

Chrysostom (again): For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent.

Augustine (354-430): If Abraham was not justified by works, how was he justified? . . . Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3; Gen. 15:6). Abraham, then, was justified by faith. Paul and James do not contradict each other: good works follow justification.


We still teach these things today.

Steve Martin said...

Here's more Church Fathers:

Good stuff!

cwdlaw223 said...

Steve -

Please show us which one of these fathers you quote did NOT participate in the Mass!

It is impossible to square Protestantism with the Mass (which means real presence, not some esoteric, spiritual presence). Impossible!

Anil -

I think one guy responded to Nick recently and said that he would tell Paul he was wrong over the interpretation of what Paul wrote.

cwdlaw223 said...

Steve -

You are trying to pain Rome as a "works alone" religion which is wrong.

That has been and never will be Rome's position that one can obtain salvation with works. (Of course, is faith a work?).

This article should correct your understanding:

Steve Martin said...

No I'm not.

Faith + works.

Jesus +.

For us, it's Christ alone.

"All our righteous deed are as filthy rags".


So the Church fathers participated in the mass. So what? That's not what saves us. You act like the mass is some sort of good work that we do to merit grace.

Grace is "unmerited favor".

That's the big difference between us. You guys think it is some cooperative venture. Who even needs the cross for that sort of stuff?

cwdlaw223 said...

So what? That was EVERYTHING to the Church fathers to worship Christ. What do you do? Ignore their total agreement about the Mass, not celebrate the Mass and create Christianity in your head.

There is no other way to properly worship Christ then by consuming him as commanded by Christ that we must do.

Your Christ alone concept is a Christ that isn't in scripture and completely without his visible church he created on this earth for us.

Christ COMMANDED us to participate in the Mass. You better believe it's a big deal. In fact, he went so far as to state our eternal life depends upon it. What do you do? Ignore his plain words and come up with some half baked concept if Christianity without any historical, scriptural or eccelesiological support. Jesus isn't somebody's hippie homeboy. He's God to be feared and worshipped.

You try to use the Church Fathers for a proto-Protestant position when they were Mass participating believers. Protestantism is incongruent with the Mass. Impossible to reconcile.

cwdlaw223 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You could go to a thousand masses and not have your sins forgiven because of it.

cwdlaw223 said...

And you can ignore history and still think your exegesis is correct. That's the only way you can deal with the conflict in your worldviews.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a comment about this post, specifically, but just wanted to let you know that I enjoy the level of actual theology that you bring to the net--I learn a lot from you. Thanks.

Patrick V